Beauty industry has a new way of looking at people’s skin abnormality. Beauty marks, they call them. Flawlessness is out, perfect imperfections are in. Leather, is from skin too, and it has “imperfections”, such as fat marks, blemishes, freckles, stamps, wrinkles and scars, yet they provide outstanding carving, embossing and dyeing characteristics. Most of these imperfections are considered what make a piece of leather “unusable” and get cut off and discarded.
As long as cows are getting killed by meat industry and their skins can therefore be used by the leather industry, I think the most realistic and efficient way to pay our respect to the animals are to utilize every bit of the material with minimal waste.
I made this clay cow to study how much hide we can get from cow skin. It turns out at this stage it’s not much waste. We can get a whole hide covers face, shoulder, belly, bent and butt.
But you can rarely see imperfections on small to medium piece of leather, or the final leather products on the market, mainly because the imperfections are cut off, which is where the most waste happens.
As you can see, most of the imperfections don’t affect the usability and durability of the leather. In fact, it offers the unique look that we should rather celebrate instead of throwing them away.
To make my point, I decided to make two bags, almost identical. One is made out of the perfect flawless leather; one is made out of the leather that on its way to trash can.
Here is Bag No.1:
Here is Bag No.2:
These two bags will be displayed at the 2nd Floor in the building of Industrial Design Department at RISD. Would you accept the bag with beauty marks?